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St. Pete Opera Guild creating opportunities for high school singers looking for a stage

St. Pete Opera
Posted at 4:17 PM, Feb 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-19 16:17:41-05

TAMPA — With concerts and musicals being canceled throughout high schools due to the pandemic, students with dreams of performing as a career are in need of a stage.

The St. Petersburg Opera Guild wasn’t about to let them down.

“And I thought it’s just not fair for these students not to have an opportunity considering how much has been taken away from them,” said Linda Switzer, who is part of the St. Petersburg Opera Guild as well as a vocal teacher.

Switzer decided to rewrite the score on a 50-year-old tradition, The St. Petersburg Opera Guild High School Vocal Competition for Classical Singers.

Instead of a live performance in a packed auditorium, the songs are pre-recorded and submitted virtually.

“Most things got canceled so I think its really important for people to be able to perform again,” said Lindsey Fabian of River Ridge High School

Switzer knows firsthand how important the event can be for the growth of a young singer. She was one of the winners back in 1984.

“Just having that you won a competition on your resume looks really really good,” said Switzer.

First, second and third place are awarded scholarships. Past singers have gone on to acclaimed colleges and promising careers on Broadway.

“Oh it would definitely boost my confidence,” said Fabian.

Students say the experience alone is immeasurable.

“We’re all preparing for college so this is A what they want to see and B what you are going to be doing,” said Veronica Dizon, of Howard Blake High School.

They say it’s completely different than a live performance and maybe even more stressful.

“It’s really hard looking over and seeing all the mistakes you know, because when you are live you think its ok its part of a live performance,” said Gabrielle Ray of Hillsborough County Virtual High School.

“If you do it virtually you’re like, ‘I messed up in this one spot I have to redo it otherwise they’ll think I’m a fool,’” said Isabella Ruano of the Academy of the Holy Names.

These students certainly appreciate the chance to showcase their talents.

“You feel hopeless after a while because the one thing that you use to channel all your emotions and creativity is gone so what do you do but this is a really great opportunity,” said Ray.

For more information on the competition go to